Some residents displaced when their low-barrier housing facility in Port Alberni was damaged by an overnight fire have been able to move back in.
Mike Owens, fire chief for the Port Alberni Fire Department, said crews were paged out at 3:42 a.m. on Thursday, April 7 to a structure fire at Phoenix House, which is located in the 3600 block of Fifth Avenue. Because the building is a multi-family residence, crews from Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Department also responded. Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department was on standby.
“When we arrived on scene, multiple suites on the first floor were fully involved,” said Owens. “We began an aggressive interior attack in order to suppress the fire in the building.”
Owens said all occupants were able to self-extricate. Three people were transported to West Coast General Hospital for treatment.
Phoenix House, operated by the Port Alberni Shelter Society, provides low-barrier, transitional housing for residents living with physical, mental or other challenges. In total, three units were destroyed by fire, while a number of other units were damaged.
Wes Hewitt, executive director for the Shelter Society, said Monday three of four units were repaired and residents were able to move back into them by Friday, April 8. As soon as repairs are done to the fourth unit, it will be up and running, he added.
The building was shut down for a brief period while restoration workers determined the extent of damage, and the cause was investigated by the fire department. “We know the cause of the fire,” said Hewitt, adding that it was “accidental.”
The sobering centre, located next door to Phoenix House, was not affected by the fire and remained open, said Hewitt.
Emergency Support Services were on scene Thursday morning to help people find alternate accommodations. Hewitt said “the majority” have ended up staying at Our Home on Eighth, which is also run by the Shelter Society.
”We’re making sure they’re all taken care of and housed,” said Hewitt.
— With files from Susie Quinn, Alberni Valley News